Tuesday, August 19, 2008

From combined dispatches

BALTIMORE | About 1,000 people in Michael Phelps‘ hometown celebrated with a “Phelpstival” four years ago when he brought back six gold medals and two bronzes from the Athens Olympics.

Officials are thinking expansion now that Phelps’ latest eight-medal haul is all gold - a record - and he is the winningest Olympian of all time with 16 medals.

A parade, keys to suburban Baltimore County and a street renamed for him - staples of the 2004 celebration - somehow just don’t seem like enough this time around.

“He’s so big and so global now, I’m sure we’ll try to top it,” Marjorie Hampson, a county spokeswoman, said Monday.

Hampson said county officials originally envisioned a post-Beijing parade that could end at Towson University’s 11,000-seat football stadium, named for late Baltimore Colts quarterback Johnny Unitas.

The problem is about that many stayed late Saturday at Baltimore’s NFL stadium after the Ravens played Minnesota so they could watch on the big screen as Phelps broke Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record of seven golds in one Olympics.

“We had hoped to have it end at Johnny Unitas Stadium, but that may not cut it,” Hampson said.

There’s no date for the welcome-home celebration, but Hampson said it could be held over Labor Day weekend. Phelps has said he will return to the United States on Thursday.

Phelps and his coach, Bob Bowman, are moving back to Baltimore and the North Baltimore Aquatic Club. Phelps has bought a home in the city’s Fells Point neighborhood.

No protests approved

BEIJING | Chinese authorities have not approved any of the 77 applications they received from people who wanted to hold protests during the Beijing Olympics, state media reported Monday.

The state-run Xinhua News Agency said the applications received since Aug. 1, a week before the games opened, were submitted by 149 people, including three from overseas. The complaints ranged from labor and medical disputes to inadequate welfare, it said.

But 74 of the applications were withdrawn because the problems “were properly addressed by relevant authorities or departments through consultations,” Xinhua said, citing an unidentified spokesman for the Public Security Bureau.

Two other applications were suspended because they did not provide sufficient information, and one was rejected because it violated laws against demonstrations and protests, the spokesman said.

No further details were given.

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